7 Ways To Gain Experience While Studying A Social Work Major

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A person enrolled in a social work major explores ways to improve the lives of vulnerable and disadvantaged people. Social work is more of a generalized degree program, with many other subjects that branch out from it, like sociology, human development, psychology, etc.

If you are interested in a career related to this field, gaining some experience while you complete your education may help you speed up your professional advancement. The job market is tough and rapidly becoming competitive. Without some entry-level work experience, it may be hard for you to land your dream job.

However, working while studying can become hard to manage at times. But there are a few ways you can make the process more straightforward. So, we’ve mentioned a few tips below to help you balance acquiring relevant work experience while studying.

Do some volunteer work

The main idea behind volunteer work is to socialize with and help less privileged people than yourself without any monetary compensation. Volunteer work is a better option to go for while studying a social work major because it enables you to understand the problems faced by people. It allows you to build a social network with people already in this line of work and learn from their experience. The hands-on experience will help you once you begin working professionally.

Choose flexible learning options

If you already have a bachelors degree, consider enrolling in a social work masters program online to manage your goals. Online education provides you with more time to volunteer or start a part-time job, depending on your line of interest. This way, you can create a flexible learning schedule around which you can also work.

Opt for insight programs

Insight programs are essential if you wish to apply for internships and jobs later in life. They are usually beneficial for first-year students in graduate programs to give them an insight into the working environment and goals of social work organizations. These programs typically involve specific workshops and surveys that help you understand the crux of the job. The working hours are also flexible, maybe a few hours a week.

Internships

Internships are full-time jobs for three months where you get to experience what a social work career would be like. The best thing about internships is they usually come by in the summers. This way, they won’t interfere with your academic schedule if you are enrolled in an offline, full-time degree program.

Internships are beneficial when you are just about to complete your degree. They help you set the career trajectory you want to go in. For example, suppose you want to work in human development. In that case, you should apply for internships in organizations working with children’s education or family care programs. This way, you get to gain experience in your field of interest and interact with people who have more experience than you. If you demonstrate an outstanding work ethic, the organization may also offer you a full-time job once you complete your education.

Look for placements

Work placements are usually a prerequisite to completing your degree program. Your educational institute may sponsor them by adding them to your curriculum. However, unlike internships, you will not get paid for while on placement.

Work placement is necessary for organizations that take a more clinical approach to social work. The students are given different tasks and supervised by a professional throughout their program. A supervisor will evaluate your performance, and you may also be required to submit a report of completing a project.

Work shadowing

Work shadowing involves shadowing a professional while they are doing their job. Usually, you follow the professional around, observe their work process, and ask questions if they take a unique problem-solving approach.

Work shadowing is a little complicated to find because people do not advertise this as a service. Work shadowing works well in clinical organizations, like those providing therapy to troubled patients. The hours are flexible, and the terms are negotiable. Usually, you need to have a reference from a trusted employee in that facility.

Even though it is not the most helpful way to gain experience, it may help you discover your area of expertise in social work.

Freelance

Working as a freelancer is the easiest way to gain experience in social work to mark your success. You offer your services to an organization and decide your hours and payment details. You can work from home or get call to work on short notice if they need your skills.

Even though the experience gained may not directly count toward your experience as a social worker, you still learn a lot through research and socializing with professionals.

Part-time Jobs

A part-time job may be a little hectic to manage with your studies, but it helps you pay for your expenses. Many students work part-time to earn extra money to pay for their expenses. But you can also find a part-time position as a social worker. As a social work major, you can work as a part-time assistant in an orphanage or even on campus in the academic division.

Conclusion

Working while studying helps you build your resume. In addition, it enables you to develop the self-discipline and work ethic many people look for while hiring. These few years of hardships are worth a successful social work career in the future. So start gathering relevant experience now.

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